The Democrats Still Don’t Get It


LNaultHi folks:

I copied below a column from tomorrows NYT by Bob Herbert.  This is the story I was yelling about in Sonal’s campaign and you guys were wondering if I was nuts and were full of denial respecting the troubles brewing here and on everybody’s mind.  My specific charge was limousine liberals.

Reading the stuff you two are batting back and forth I wonder if you two are on the same planet as I live on.  The health care legislation is dead.  Cap and trade or any variations of carbon restrictions are dead.   President Nero fiddled while the economy was burning,  hostage as he is to environmental interests as hostile to progress as the republican cabal is to co-operation.  The cart was placed before the donkey.  You can accomplish nothing until the private economy gets back on its feet.  With a robust economy, with unemployment dropping all these other things could be considered rationally. Until then nothing will get done.

Right now Obama needs to to throw out of his cabinet about 7 members and get rid of Emanual and Axelrod.  At the top of the list are Chu, Geithner, Gates, Jackson, Nepanatello, and Clinton.  If you want to seriously help the situation you’ll work to get these dopes exchanged for men of action on the real solutions of getting people back to work.


They Still Don’t Get It

Published: January 22, 2010
How loud do the alarms have to get? There is an economic emergency in the country with millions upon millions of Americans riddled with fear and anxiety as they struggle with long-term joblessness, home foreclosures, personal bankruptcies and dwindling opportunities for themselves and their children.
  1. #1 by Jonathan Cloud on Sunday, January 24, 2010 - 10:18 am

    Hi Larry:

    While I understand and share your frustration with the Adminstration’s failure to address the underlying causes of our present economic crisis, or to take actions that improve the conditions for the majority of Americans, I disagree with your pessimism, your prescriptions, and your rhetorical attacks on the President and his cabinet. I am glad that people like Bob Herbert are sounding the alarm and reminding us all of the realities of this so-called “great recession.” But I think that Obama has accomplished a number of positive things in his first year, and that patience, support, and better ideas are needed to turn things around.

    I have been disappointed with Obama’s failure to build on the popular mobilization that was the hallmark of his campaign, and have been upfront in saying so. But I listened to his town hall speech in Ohio last night, and think he is beginning to “get it.” If you prefer to read the transcript, it is here, though it does not include the give and take, or his very lucid explanation at the end of the health care reform challenge that we need to deal with.

    Frankly I think he ought to have been making these kinds of speeches every month to the American people, and done a lot more to lay things out and call a spade a spade all along. But I accept that he has had to buckle down and face a lot of tough choices this year, in terms of rescuing the financial system from total collapse, restoring America’s standing around the world, and getting the recovery dollars flowing out to the states and cities to prevent an even greater loss of jobs, services, and safety nets for the people. It took us a long time to get into this mess, and will take some time to get out of it; the nation remains polarized, confused, and ignorant; and the Republicans have sought to oppose, obstruct, and undermine change at every turn.

    But calling people names, and calling for their heads to roll, will not improve the situation. Declaring health care reform, climate change legislation, and the economic recovery dead on arrival only feeds into the right’s effort to demoralize and discredit the forces of progressive change.

    In addition, our assessment of the underlying conditions is different. You believe in trying to restore the failed and unsustainable consumer economy first; I don’t think we can or should ever get back to that.

    I would urge you to read <>James Howard Kuntsler – we’re never going back “to the new car showrooms, and the cul-de-sac model houses, reignite another round of furious sprawl-building, salad-shooter importing, and no-doc liar-lending, not to mention the pawning off of innovative, securitized stinking-carp debt paper onto credulous pension funds in foreign lands where due diligence has never been heard of, renew the leveraged buying-out of zippy-looking businesses by smoothies who have no idea how to run them (and no real intention of doing it, anyway), resuscitate the construction of additional strip malls, new office park “capacity” and Big Box “power centers,” restart the trade in granite countertops and home theaters, and pack the turnstiles of Walt Disney world – all this while turning Afghanistan into a neighborhood that Beaver Cleaver would be proud to call home.”

    Our economic model is broken, and to even have a hope of surviving the 21st century as a species we need to change course, restore and regenerate the earth, and live in harmony with nature and one another on an entirely different basis. This is what I believe we need to work toward, and getting off fossil fuels is a big part of it.

    I could go on about this, but I have to get back to my own professional work, trying to bring about positive change and keeping up my own spirits and those of others around me. The right would like nothing more than to divide us, and have us cut our own heroes off at the knees, and undermine the fragile progress that we are making. I urge you to direct your very justifiable anger and indignation at those who truly deserve it; to keep holding our own champions’ feet to the fire; and to offer hope and positive solutions and change for the future.

    As Kuntsler says in his “<>Forecast 2010,”

    I don’t remember any period in my own longish life, even the Vietnam uproar, when the collective sense of purpose, intent, and self-confidence was so muddled in this country, so detached from reality….
    I begin by restating my central theme of recent months: that we’re doing a poor job of constructing a coherent consensus about what is happening to us and what we are going to do about it.
    There is a great clamor for “solutions” out there. I’ve noticed that what’s being clamored for is a set of rescue remedies – miracles even – that will allow us to keep living exactly the way we’re accustomed to in the USA, with all the trappings of comfort and convenience now taken as entitlements. I don’t believe that this will be remotely possible, so I avoid the term “solutions” entirely and suggest that we speak instead of “intelligent responses” to our changing circumstances. This implies that our well-being depends on our own behavior and the choices that we make, not on the lucky arrival of just-in-time miracles. It is an active stance, not a passive one. What will we do?
    The great muddlement out there, this inability to form a coherent consensus about what’s happening, is especially frightening when, as is the case today, even the intelligent elites appear clueless or patently dishonest, in any case unreliable, in their relations with reality. President Obama, for instance – a charming, articulate man, with a winning smile, pectorals like Kansas City strip steaks, and a mandate for “change” – who speaks incessantly and implausibly of “the recovery” when all the economic vital signs tell a different story except for some obviously manipulated stock market indexes. You hear this enough times and you can’t help but regard it as lying, and even if it is lying ostensibly for the good of the nation, it is still lying about what is actually going on and does much harm to the project of building a coherent consensus. I submit that we would benefit more if we acknowledged what is really happening to us because only that will allow us to respond intelligently. What prior state does Mr. Obama suppose we’re recovering to? A Potemkin housing boom and an endless credit card spending orgy? The lying spreads downward from the White House and broadly across the fruited plain and the corporate office landscape and through the campuses and the editorial floors and the suites of absolutely everyone in charge of everything until all leadership in every field of endeavor has been given permission to speak untruth and to reinforce each others lies and illusions.
    How dysfunctional is our nation? These days, we lie to ourselves perhaps as badly the Soviets did, and in a worse way, because where information is concerned we really are a freer people than they were, so our failure is far less excusable, far more disgraceful. That you are reading this blog is proof that we still enjoy free speech in this country, whatever state of captivity or foolishness the so-called “mainstream media” may be in. By submitting to lies and illusions, therefore, we are discrediting the idea that freedom of speech and action has any value. How dangerous is this?

  2. #2 by Larry Nault on Sunday, January 24, 2010 - 10:35 am


    You do not have the remotest concept of my criticism. It is not my concern over the consumer economy. It is the vital infrastructure that supports an industrial economy. Its getting engineering going big time on transportation and power, and staying the hell out of stupid wars. In the end it is not hand holding with bankers, leave that to their protector the Federal reserve. It getting plans and specification off the drawing boards, purchasing started, people hired. Where have these cabinet people been. Where oh where is Harold Ickes? Where oh where is Harry Hopkins.

    So far hundreds of billions have been spent with nothing lasting to show for it. In my home town of Ishpeming, Michigan we still in 2010 use swings, teder totters, manually pumped merry go rounds, tether ball apparatus all used since 1935 when the WPA and the CCC built it. All we will have to show when we look over our balance sheet years ahead is debts and pay stub receipts of feather bedding teacher union members who work 1000 minutes a week. We are patching roads and bridges and building nothing. Nothing happens until building starts. People like you, are a bigger obstacle than the republicans as despicable as they are.

    I did not write this to Paul Hirschman after the Mass. vote but ahead of it. The die had already been cast and apparent months ago. You and Allen turned a deaf ear to me all through Sonal’s campaign. It is time you get real.


    To: Paul Hirschman
    Sent: Sat, January 16, 2010 7:21:18 PM
    Subject: Re: Economic conditions


    I am sorry to conclude that the 10 month spending spree which could have been a gestation period for the new infrastructure for a competitive nation, but instead has been wasted on vain attempts to maintain the status Quo, has failed. I doubt very much if your 33 footer is going to make any difference. President Nero, who has fiddled while the economy burned, every where it counts, and committed the blunder of Afghanistan escalation, has come a cropper.

    It pains me to say this but calling things what they are is supposed to be the beginnings of wisdom.


    From: Paul Hirschman
    To: Larry Nault
    Sent: Sat, January 16, 2010 3:44:46 PM
    Subject: Economic conditions


    Now that the recession has been proclaimed “all gone”, I am noticing a significant number of empty stores, even in Sainted Boca Raton.  The prices continue to slowly climb up for a variety of items.  Albertson’s, which is a supermarket chain here, is closing it’s doors.  I don’t know the reason.

    We were over on the west coast of Florida in the Ft Myers area, and were told that the housing prices are depressed beyond belief, and that a 3500 foot house on the water, with a dock, could be had for 1/2 to 1/3 of the former  high price.

    While were were there, and to do my part for the economy, I bought a 33 foot SeaRay, which will be trucked across the state to my slip in a few weeks.  The trickle down effect should be felt nationally within a month or two.  Let me know when you become aware of the economic boost.


  3. #3 by Jonathan Cloud on Sunday, January 24, 2010 - 10:38 am

    Hi Larry:

    My apologies if I misread your support for getting the private economy back on its feet as trying to return us to the status quo, which you rightly criticize here and elsewhere.

    But I’m not even sure that a focus on the “infrastructure that supports an industrial economy” is much better. It is, after all, the industrial economy that has gotten into the climate crisis, the waste and misuse of natural resources, the burning of coal and petroleum in large quantities and the associated environmental damage this is causing, the piling up of trash and toxic wastes, the industrialization of agriculture and consequent depletion of soils and damage to the oceans, etc., etc., etc. Then on top of this, globalization and a slavish devotion to Adam Smith and Ayn Rand have led to the redistribution of jobs, industrial production, and pollution to the Third World; and the subsequent evolution of the financial system into the fabrication of artificial derivatives and markets led to the immediate collapse of credit and of valuations that caused millions to be laid off and thrown out of their homes.

    I agree with you that we have lost sight of the fundamental economic values of the New Deal; but where I think we differ is that I do not believe we can ever go back to an earlier stage of only moderate economic insanity (vs. the full-blown insanity we have today). Please bear in mind the growth in human population, in technology, in scientific knowledge, and in economic and political chicanery since the 1930s (and those guys knew a thing or two about chicanery as well). We’re never going to return to a simpler and more practical way of life at this rate, at least not until we see massive climate disruptions, ecosystem and population collapse, and the disintegration of economic and political institutions that continue to propped up by those who profit from them regardless of the consequences to everyone else.

    It seems you do not share the view of most modern economists that Obama’s policies at least saved the economy from completely going over the cliff, at least temporarily, and hopefully long enough for it to be reformed at least a little bit. Of course the reforms will not be radical enough for either my taste or yours, but I think Obama is trying to sustain a very difficult balancing act, long enough to lay a foundation for a better future to even be possible, let alone likely. I agree we should get out of our stupid wars, and pull back from the thousands of military bases and block ops sites we have around the world; but fear and insecurity are much stronger drivers than we imagine and will probably not allow us to do this and to reap any sort of “peace dividend.”

    I think we can only work for ad hoc positive changes wherever we are, and hope that the oncoming collapse does not sweep away all of the good we are doing; continue to point out that our present philosophies and institutions are bankrupt; and offer alternatives that people can embrace if they are willing to. But until there is a sea-change in consciousness, and the emergence of new and more sustainable forms of community that people choose to start migrating towards, I believe that most action will continue to be “too little, too late,” and that our failure to support whatever small efforts each of us, including Obama, are willing and able to make, will only exacerbate matters, until things truly fall apart and we are able to start rebuilding them on a more solid foundation and moving in a different direction that is 180° from where we are now headed.

    What hope is there, if we cannot even agree upon this amongst ourselves?

  4. #4 by wallen on Sunday, January 24, 2010 - 10:40 am


    Apparently you and Jonathan have been engaged in a dialog, in which I was mentioned, but of which I was not aware. In your message you make the following statement:  “You and Allen turned a deaf ear to me all through Sonal’s campaign. It is time you get real.”

    I have no idea what you base this statement on. I believe I always agreed with you when you said last year that people were hurting. I sensed this in my door-to-door meetings in 2008.

    Bill Allen

  5. #5 by Larry Nault on Sunday, January 24, 2010 - 10:41 am


    You completely fooled me.


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